Ellen relayed the directions that the padre had given them. The driver understood and turned the buggy to follow the road back toward town.
Santos Ramirez’ parents in law lived at the end of a rutted side road that turned off toward the west on the main way to
. It was some distance but they found a small house with many people living in it. When the buggy stopped in front of the adobe house two men came out. The older one came toward them as Slade stepped down and helped Ellen from the buggy, but the younger one hurried ahead of him. Santa Fe
“Senora! You are alive! I am pleased! They said you had been killed. The men found Senorita Margarita’s grave, but there was no sign of you. Gracias a Dios, Senora! Alabado sea el Señor.”
! I have been searching for you. How is your father? And your family?” Santos
Ellen was so happy she hugged herself. And then she hugged Slade, he hugged his new bride with enthusiasm and in spite of on-looking children, helped himself to a kiss before he released her to tell him the reason for her excitement.
“It is all organized. Your Lord, I mean, our Lord, is surely working things out for us!
is in need of work. His wife and children are welcomed at her parents’ but you can imagine they are not pleased with a man who is not contributing to the household finances. They have been forced to live with them since Santos Santos’ family returned from after helping his father to find the ranch deserted. He has two older children and another due in several months. Mexico
“I’ve arranged for him to organize the repairs at the ranch house property and make it habitable. He will take his wife and choose a house for them to live in there. Once it is clean and habitable they can move in. He will begin cleaning up around the hacienda and Manuelita will begin cleaning inside the house. Then he will hire workers for the heavier work.
“He said if we had an extra horse he and Rita could ride out yet today and take a general survey to see what is necessary. She can ride well and the trip on horseback is not so long as going by wagon. But he only has one horse that his Father gave him for his help. If they have to ride double it will take too long. With two horses they can travel faster. He thinks they can meet us back at the hotel in the morning to report what they find.
“So all we need to do is stop at the livery and buy a horse!”
Slade had to laugh at their simple acceptance of having enough money to buy a horse at the drop of a hat. From his experience a horse was an expensive proposition.
“Just remember we have to at least stop at the store and give our list to the shopkeeper!’ He said.
“Of course, I didn’t forget that! It is barely noon now. We will go directly to the store when we have purchased the horse.
will meet us there. We will give him the extra horse--I told him we could buy a horse, but it would remain Aguilar property—and make arrangements with the tendero for him to get supplies. And!” She paused and her eyes twinkled with glee. “We can order our supplies!” Santos
The buggy carried them along at a brisk pace. As soon as they were back in town their first visit was to the livery where Slade bargained for a horse and insisted on riding it before they tendered their money. He insured that they had a bill of sale and they clipped a lead rope to the halter.
They made it to the mercantile in record time. The keeper, Senor Montalvo, had maintained his business since the early days of the Spanish settlement. When the territory passed into American hands he had successfully converted his business into a more anglicized focus and continued to serve the people of the area.
Then Slade drew the list of supplies from his pocket. He asked if the storekeeper had a safe area where the supplies could be stored until they were picked up the following morning. Slade felt that if he could see the size of the stack he could better estimate the size of their load.
Wisely he began with the staples of their list and then proceeded to the ‘extras.’ Ellen stood by quietly, knowing that her own experience in loading wagons and the weight the horses could pull was beyond her. As he ordered, he reduced the weights on some of the things, but he was pleased that he could get all of the things they needed. While Ellen was looking a small length of red satin material to make a new shirt for One Who Laughs, Slade took advantage of the opportunity to purchase new trousers, a shirt and a jacket for himself. He felt he needed at least one set of clothes that were more presentable than his traveling clothes but not so fine as his suit. He also had in mind to replace the ruined shirt. He had left it to dry over night and it truly was unsalvageable—at least for public use. It would be acceptable for use on the ranch.
He chuckled at the thought of Ellen’s surprise when she saw him in the plain brown trousers and new jacket. He sent those and the two shirts ahead to the hotel, wrapped in plain paper.
The pile of supplies was left at the back of the store for pick up in the morning. Abruptly Slade remembered that they would have to make the one or two day trip in three or four days because of the weight on the wagon. He turned back and bought bacon, canned beans, some flour, sugar and ground coffee beans to pack with their travel supplies—enough to last for four days if necessary. They were to be sent directly to the hotel today.
Since they had sent the horse and buggy back to the Commandantewith profuse thanks, they took a leisurely walk to Mrs. Coulter’s and back to the hotel with the bill paid and a new muffler for Ellen. They spent a few minutes in the plaza enjoying the fresh air and sunlight through the bare branches of the trees.